The insanely great reviews tasting
If you’d never read my blog, you would read this post and think that I’m barking mad, throwing out big reviews like Margaret and David at the Cannes Film Festival. But these wines are the pick of a number of wines tasted over the last few weeks, some at the Hobart Wine Fair and others in my sampling area (aka the living room). All tasted non-blind and all spat, except one which received my highest score and which I couldn’t bring myself to dispose of. I guess the key thing here is wines that have had high quality winemaking, but would be ripper wines regardless, due to their awesome sites and the quality of recent vintages. One thing I will say is that the Hunter Valley is blowing my mind right now.
Best’s Bin 1 Shiraz 2014, RRP $25 (Great Western, Victoria)
Highly aromatic wine, with a peppery sweetness on the nose too. Ripping bouquet meets ripping palate. The nose follows the palate like a dog on a lead. If this is meant to be an introductory wine for the Best’s Shiraz style, I’ll be stuffed. High quality here. Solidly cushioned tannin and a length on the finish that is super satisfying.
Best’s Bin 0 Shiraz 2012, RRP $85 (Great Western, Victoria)
Parcels for this wine come from the 1867 Thomson Family vineyard, 1966 block and 1970 block. Super old vines meet old vines. It’s imposing even in the glass. Dense colour, but plush-looking. Exudes history from the glass. With a swirl, there are bottomless dark fruits on the nose, a touch of French oak to make you well up with anticipation. It doesn’t disappoint. Oceans – literally, oceans – of dark fruit, impenetrable and endless. Long finish, supple. The definition of class.
Best’s Chardonnay 2012, RRP $25 (Great Western, Victoria)
Another great value wine from Best’s, the 2012 vintage now in a good place. Lovely nose of white peach, nuts, and clean citrus fruit. In the mouth is where it all happens – cream, slightly toasty and with a long finish. Impressive chardonnay supported by impressive use of oak. My mind is trying to find fault with the wine, my palate says there isn’t one. Challenging but rewarding. Best’s recommend a lobster bisque with the wine, and I wouldn’t argue.
Cockfighter’s Ghost Semillon 2012, RRP $22 (Hunter Valley, NSW)
Straight out of the spiritual home of Semillon, the Hunter. Really fragrant aromas coming out of this – fresh, clean, summery but more complex than that too. In the mouth, it’s crunchy and vibrant. Definite lemon curd there, and something akin to oats as well. The lees and oak time give it a more bouncy and fuller mouthfeel than I expected. A very good wine at this price point. What a bargain!
Witchmount Lowen Park Chardonnay, RRP $17 (Sunbury, Victoria)
Nestled in the Sunbury area of Victoria, I had never seen a wine by Witchmount come my way. This is an impressive Chardonnay. Varietal nose of white peach and citrus, but that’s where the basic Chardonnay ends and this wine begins. 70% new French oak gives this wine a great body, great length and on the biggish side for a Chardonnay of this price pitch. Yep, the oak time definitely gives a creamy nougat taste to the finish too. Could’ve bought 6 if I had the space in the boot. Winery recommends seafood with this but I think roast chicken too.
Holm Oak ‘The Wizard’ Pinot Noir 2013, RRP $60 (Rowella, Tasmania)
I. Just. Can’t. Express. Impeccable from front to back, beginning to end. Puts the doubters about Tassie being Pinot’s new kingdom to bed. It belongs in Tasmania when done like this. You’ve got your Pinot notes that you expect on the nose – the cherry, the slight brambly smell, and the plummy red fruit. But it’s in layers – boom, one – boom, two – boom, three – boom, four. The palate smashes you with a velvet glove. Cherries, plums, some kind of coffee notes, ground earth. Big, supple, op-u-lent. Graceful but epic. Tannin structure is brilliant but I can’t hold on to define it as I reel at everything else. Concentrated and long in finish. Website says have this with venison – definitely do.
Tyrrell’s Vat 47 Hunter Chardonnay 2011, RRP $70 (Hunter Valley, NSW)
Hand picking but also some basket pressing on this wine, nursed from vineyard to bottle. Mixture of old and new oak for this after seeing some steel. There is quality and then there’s this. Stone fruit, green fruit skins, toast and smokey tinges on the nose. The fruit washes over the tongue, coats it in a crystal clear quality. It’s rich but not overdone, smooth but not lacking in class. A long, smoky finish wrapped in beautiful complexity.
Tyrrell’s Vat 9 Hunter Shiraz 2009, RRP $85 (Hunter Valley, NSW)
Before I get to the smell and taste of this wine, let me just say how bloody beautiful the body and mouthfeel of Hunter Shiraz can be. This is it. It smells like top notch stuff and doesn’t disappoint. Subtle and sophisticated on the nose, but you don’t know the brilliance of Shiraz until you smell it. When you drink it, the black and blue fruits shine through in that order. Tannin is supple and rich, fruit devours the quality oak. This wine is like the prodigal son – it’s gone out and done its own thing, and would be brilliant even independent of its great winemaking. But it never left, and I hope it never does. Long finish, complexity galore, but an intellectual wine, while at the same time clutching at my heart strings. One of the highest scores I’ve ever given, for any wine.
Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Hunter Semillon 2010, RRP $80 (Hunter Valley, NSW)
It’s tight and focused right now. Far too young to consider drinking. It exudes lime and clean, steely aromas. Smallest hint of the generous lemon curd notes to come in the future. Drinking it, there’s a zing of acidity and length that is really going to shape up well in time. Pings of toasty loveliness shine through too, feels just so structural and ready to cling on for however many years you can wait. This will be a test for the would-be cellarer.
Making great wines at Stefano Lubiana
Stefano Lubiana Estate Chardonnay 2012, RRP $48 (Granton, Tasmania)
Yep, Tassie does Pinot well, but it does Chardonnay in an equally fine way. Stefano Lubiana’s wines have long been a benchmark of quality, his Pinots and Chardonnays oozing class. This is in a similar mould. A bouquet of citrus, cream, buttered toast, and round ripeness. Drinking it, this all oozes out but is coiled and only slightly penetrable until left in the glass for a while. Then, it melts across your tongue and wraps you up in the finest silk coat money can buy. Acidity will help this wine hold one for a time, but drink it now to enjoy the luxury. With seafood or roast chicken, or a chicken salad.
Stefano Lubiana Settebello Single Block Pinot Noir, RRP $70 (Granton, Tasmania)
This is a brainy wine. You have to think about it, and it lures you in to do more of that thinking stuff. It’s beguiling, is the word I would use. Dark cherries, even dark chocolate hints. Luxurious and expansive to smell and taste. It’s got a special, unique presence, tannin feeling round but ready to stretch its legs, the fruit is nothing short of ripe, rich and of evident quality. A different expression of Pinot and one well worth trying.
Stefano Lubiana ‘Sasso’ Pinot Noir 2012, RRP around $100 (Granton, Tasmania)
Not at all easy to get a hold of this wine, I am told, although it is a relatively new release. Hits of earth, mushroom on the nose. Smells like a Tasmanian take on Burgundy, via rustic Italy. It speak of its place on the nose and palate without flinching, despite what I just said about the ideas it conjures. It swells in the mouth to great heights, nigh on indescribable, which is pointless for a review I guess. Super lengthy. These are charged up Pinots that Stefano Lubiana is making. A wine of distinction right here.
Stella Bella Vineyard, Margaret River
Stella Bella Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, RRP $32 (Margaret River, WA)
Fantastic spot for Cabernet, fantastic year for it too. Everything comes together in this wine. Rich oak and tannin – it’s a rich wine all over really. Cabernet smells of cassis, dark spice and cigars. Top notch power but as with many Margaret River Cabernets, elegance is the key to its quality. 14% Merlot blended into the wine and gosh, what a perfect amount. Pings a crystal clear berry on the finish, cushioned by black fruit. Tomato-based meaty pastas will love this.
Cirillo Shiraz 2012, RRP around $25 (Nuriootpa, SA)
An absolute steal. Again, killer vintage, killer location for this grape. Cirillo produce a range of outstanding wines. Having tasted a few big alcohol Barossa Shirazes recently, I am raving about this more nuanced style. Doesn’t run away from beautiful fruits on the nose, and in fact backs it up on the palate. Blackberries and other juicy dark fruits, but cut through with quality tannin and a shining acidity to push it along. Medium bodied in a Barossa context. Steak!